TRAVELLER groups have warned that a programme to develop purpose-built housing will not solve accommodation needs, amid claims from one councillor it will create a “supersize” halting site in the city.
The Cork Traveller Visibility Group (TVG) and the Cork Traveller Women's Network (CTWN) have cautiously welcomed the rubberstamping of the Traveller Accommodation Programme after it was adopted by City Hall last night.
The plan will see housing built for 10 families at Ellis’s Yard, adjacent to the overcrowded Spring Lane halting site, in addition to plans to update facilities at halting sites at Carrigrohane, Corkeran’s Quay and plans to refurbish the Meelagh group housing scheme.
Electic wiring, sanitation, health and safety, rat infestations and overcrowding have been among the issues flagged at Spring Lane in recent years. However, there is widespread public opposition in Ballyvolane to Traveller housing at Ellis’s Yard.
There were 925 submissions to the public consultation for the Traveller Accommodation Programme - 90% of which were in relation to Ellis’s Yard.
A spokesperson for (TVG) and (CTWN) commented: “We are glad to see that a Traveller Accommodation Plan has made it over the line at the eleventh hour, as we do recognise that the plan promises action on a number of the most acute, outstanding accommodation and overcrowding issues in the city.
“However we still have reservations about the accommodation needs of some Traveller families being neither addressed, nor even acknowledged, but we are looking forward to work with City Council...to speedily implement those elements of the plan, which have been named.
“We are also concerned about further delays being introduced into this plan at the last minute, excluding us, excluding Traveller families in urgent need of accommodation, and excluding the council`s own Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee.
“Plans come and go, as we all know. This is the fifth plan in twenty years, and Travellers in Cork are only too aware of previous plans not being implemented in full,” the spokesperson added.
Many city councillors have now said ‘buy-in’ from the Traveller community and estate management will be key to making the programme a success.
Only four councillors voted against the plan: Labour’s John Maher, Fianna Fáil’s Ken O’Flynn and Fine Gael’s Des Cahill and Joe Kavanagh.
Mr O’Flynn has called for Travellers to be accommodated in new halting sites on greenfield sites around the city. He has claimed the Ellis’s Yard plan will create a super “supersize halting site”.
Mr Maher said: “I hear the buzzwords such as ‘trust’ and ‘working together’. If anybody is serious about trust and working together, they need to come out to the settled community. The settled community was not listened to.”